I never realized how busy the phone was during weekdays. While we both have our cell phones, we decided to retain our landline phone – at the cheapest rate we could get – in order to have a high quality phone service to use for actual voice calls. We also wanted that old reliable telephone that – unlike the cell phone network – seems to work throughout most emergencies.
I’m beginning to have second thoughts.
Every day – it seems – I get several calls. They invariably are planned to arrive at the most inopportune times. I can be out working in the front yard when my garage phone goes ring-ring. I then have to rush inside the house because outside of the ring-ring the garage phone doesn’t work real well. I might be in the bathroom when I hear that ring-ring. I’m often in the midst of reading a really good book when suddenly, ring-ring. When I pick up the phone and say “hello,” I often get this lengthy silent period, then some background noise and then a voice – usually with an accent – that says “hello?” Obviously this person did not actually hear me answer the phone. Probably a green light on his counsel flashed “Another mark. Talk to him/her.”
These calls often come from scammers. Windows Support, and the US Treasury Department have been my two most frequent scammers. After trying the futile “press #5 to be removed from the call list,” I simply play along with them for a few minutes until they get upset, call me a foul name, and fade away.
These calls also come from businesses – some of them perhaps bit shady – that simply ignore the federal No Call List. These callers include Rachael from Cardholder Services, and several Medical Alert Service companies (The Medical Alert people must know that I am retired and therefore “old.”) These organizations, too, ignore any attempts to be removed from the call list.
I have often been placed on hold when accepting these calls. Then I get periodic messages like, “Thank you for your patience, you are caller number 23. Again, thank you for your patience.” On numerous occasions, after waiting for several minutes, the automatic computer program simply disconnects – probably because so many people are eagerly taking advantage of the great deals being offered.
I have even had a call from a Kirby Vacuum Cleaner representative. When I told him we were on the federal No Call List, he responded, “You mean you never get telemarketer calls. I can’t believe that.” Ignoring him, I simply repeated over and over that we were on the federal No call List – until he hung up.
One time, I led the “help I’ve fallen and can’t get up” guy on for several minutes. He even promised me he would remove our number form the call list if I would recommend a friend that he could call. After several minutes, I told him I was simply extending my conversation with him to cause his employer to spend more on telephone charges.
This didn’t seem to bother him. He said, “I work for a multi-million dollar company. The few pennies it takes to talk to you don’t even register on their books.” Then I asked him if he worked on a commission,. He responded with a “yes.” I replied, the longer we talk, the less you will earn. He paused for a few seconds, called me a foul name and hung up.
Finally, there are the calls from politicians and non-profits which do not have to honor the federal No Call List – as if it makes any difference. The non-profits begin their calls with “Thank you for your past donations. We want to send you a letter for your next donation and need to know what your pledge will be.”
Really? You can’t just send the letter and let me check off a box? “No, I need to know which letter to send you.” Send me any letter you wish. We will donate what we donate when we make donations at the end of the year. They often simply hang up. The political calls are usually all prerecorded. I lay the telephone down and go about my work until I hear, “If you wish to make a call…”
The Kirby guy only called me once so far, but I talk with the rest of these people several times a week. My earliest call so far was at 7:45 in the morning from a life insurance company selling special policies for diabetics. I suppose it’s appropriate, since high blood sugar is often correlated with difficulty sleeping…
I have filed several protests with the Consumer Products Commission, but that doesn’t seem to work.
In response to these calls; I have simply hung up, I have pressed button #5, and I have talked and talked until the caller gets upset and hangs up. I don’t know which of these responses is the most effective, but I know which response gives me the most pleasure. I wait for a live person to take over from the computer robo-caller and then I scream at the top of my lungs!”
My wife says that’s childish.
It probably is...
Published on Monday, November 17, 2014 in the Winona Daily News under the title: Will endless phone calls ruin retirement?